A ship carrying enough United Nations food assistance to feed 25,000 people for one month arrived in the besieged Libyan city of Misrata today, as the World Food Programme (WFP) voiced concern once again about dwindling food stocks in the strife-torn country.
The ship, which was chartered by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), also brought a WFP team that is part of a UN inter-agency mission that will conduct a rapid needs assessment of the humanitarian situation on the ground.
The UN team will also evacuate the wounded and stranded migrants, and deliver up to 700 tons of food and blankets, kitchen sets and medical supplies.
The WFP shipment of wheat flour, pulses, vegetable oil, and high-energy biscuits is the fourth time that the agency has sent food assistance to Misrata since 7 April, delivering a total of more than 1,600 tons of food aid to civilians trapped by the fighting that erupted several months ago between Government forces and rebel groups seeking the ouster of Muammar al-Qadhafi.
WFP has chartered another vessel which is due to reach Misrata in the next few days carrying more food assistance and providing transport for other humanitarian partners.
The agency also announced today that it is extending its regional emergency operation for North Africa for three more months until the end of August. The $100 million operation aims to assist 1.5 million people affected by the violence in Libya and neighbouring countries.
WFP has also deployed experts on the ground in Libya to coordinate and strengthen logistics and telecommunications for the entire humanitarian community. A three-month special operation for the WFP-run UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) has already provided at least 15 flights between Malta, Cairo, Benghazi and Djerba.
The air operation is currently facing a shortfall of close to $3 million and may have to end unless funds are mobilized, WFP warned.
Also today, the UN-ordered panel investigating human rights abuses in Libya submitted its report, which states that Government forces have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity during the course of their crackdown on opposition forces.
The three-member International Commission of Inquiry, dispatched by the UN Human Rights Council, called on the Government of Libya to immediately cease acts of violence against civilians and to thoroughly investigate all alleged violations.
Meanwhile, diplomatic efforts to help resolve the crisis in Libya are continuing. Yesterday UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe told the Security Council that the Secretary-General and his Special Envoy to Libya, Abdul Elah al-Khatib, the African Union and other stakeholders have been making every effort to narrow the differences between the parties and to begin a credible negotiating process.
He noted that the parties remain sharply divided on how to start peace talks, with the Government adamant on a truce, including the cessation of an international bombing campaign, and the opposition demanding that Mr. Qadhafi and his family first relinquish power.
The pro-democracy movement emerged in Libya in February following similar protests in Tunisia, Egypt and other countries across North Africa and the Middle East.